Viking Past: 
Ask an Icelander who he is, and he may well tell you (with a straight face) that he is the son of a Viking. "But the Vikings are long gone," you may say. He will probably look you in the eye, laugh maybe, and tell you that no, they are still here. These days, they just dress differently, prefer fishing to fighting, and have much better ships. If there is one thing Icelanders are proud of, it is their past. 
The people of Iceland are indeed direct decendants of the Vikings. The island was settled by Vikings late in the 9th century, and genetically speaking, it has had virtually no outside influence since. Icelanders are the tallest people on Earth, and certainly very Nordic looking. 

One reason why Icelanders are so attatched to their past is that there is plenty to be proud of. The original settlers of this wild island were undoubtably a hardy and industrious bunch. Compared to the rest of Europe during the Dark Ages, they were also unusually civilized.  In 930 AD, a group of men gathered at Thingvellir and established their own government, which is today the world's oldest parliamentary system. While the rest of Europe was languishing in the medieval abyss, Leif Eriksson was exploring North America and the great storytellers of Iceland were writing down the sagas, or epic poems, that are to this day the foundation of both Iceland's history and its national mythology. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about Iceland's past, however, is that it is still alive in the language, which has been unchanged for 1000 years. It is so pure that if you hand an Icelander a copy of a saga written 1000 years ago, he will be able to read every word. 
And what about Viking cuisine? Well, it's still here, too, and in the month of February you can find it in almost every restaurant. This goes back to an old feast the Vikings used to hold to celebrate the last weeks of winter. The two main delicacies are not for faint-hearted. One is a shark that has been rotting in the ground for four months, the other is ram testicles. 

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